03 Jul 2022

Choose clover over chemicals - Laois Offaly Green Minister urges farmers

Hackett highlights scheme to incentivise reseeding with grass, clover and herb mix

Choose clover over chemicals - Laois Offaly Green Minister urges farmers

Laois Offaly Minister of Stat Pippa Hackett

Livestock farmers should consider trying out new ways of managing their pastures, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett who has highlighted the power of clover. 

The Laois Offaly Green Party senator was speaking in the Seanad, where she highlighted an upcoming Department reseeding scheme which it's claimed provide multi species sward seed at no extra cost.

"I have said before that I believe chemical nitrogen free pasture management can be the future.  In the past few weeks I have seen exciting examples of successful intensive farming with no recourse to artificial fertiliser and I hope our upcoming scheme will encourage many more farmers to try it out, even in a small way," she said.

Minister Hackett, who farms in Geashill on the Laois Offaly border, referred to what was described as the dangers of overuse of synthetic fertilisers

"We are a long way off this situation in Ireland, but it is the case, that in the end, synthetic fertiliser, if we apply enough of it, for long enough, will not just continue polluting our rivers with its losses, it will turn our soil into a barren desert in which nothing will grow.  But while chemical nitrogen helps grass grow, so, thankfully, does naturally fixed nitrogen.  And clover is a really efficient natural nitrogen fixing machine," she said.

Minister Hackett added that Teagasc was engaged with various clover and multi-species sward trials that were showing very encouraging results.

"Managing a multi species sward is different from simply applying nitrogen.  In some ways it’s more difficult,  in other ways it’s easier.  But I certainly believe it’s worth it.  Not just for the potential saving on fertiliser costs.  But also for the satisfaction we can all derive, from healthy soils, from feeding our animals and our land in a way which works for them and for us, AND for the climate challenges ahead. This is the future," she concluded.

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